Two Uptown businesses have partnered with a reproduction choice organization to provide emergency contraception upon request with no questions asked.
Casa Nueva and Import House have supplies of a generic version of the Plan B pill, provided by Women Have Options Ohio. WHO, which describes itself as "Ohio's abortion fund," helps women exercise their reproductive rights with financial and logistical assistance.
Tony’s Tavern had signed on with the project but has since withdrawn. In a Facebook message, Tony's said it supports WHO but is not distributing emergency contraception.
The group began in Columbus and received a grant for the emergency contraception, said WHO organizer Claressa Page. WHO asked a variety of Columbus businesses that were friendly to their cause, including bars and The Garden, an adult entertainment store off High Street.
After moving to Athens during the pandemic, Page thought the city — with Ohio University and the busy bar scene — would be the perfect place to expand the emergency contraception program.
“It’s nice to have locations that people know about, that are centralized where anyone can walk in and pick up the [emergency contraception] when needed,” said Page.
Grace Corbin, a worker-owner and marketing coordinator at Casa Nueva, heard about the WHO program and brought it to the team, which unanimously chose to join. She compared the program to giving an employee ibuprofen if they requested.
Misconception about what the pill is could be the reason some businesses may be hesitant, according to Corbin. Some object to Plan B and similar medications because they believe the drugs induce abortions. That is not the case, according to the Office on Women's Health, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Emergency contraception prevents an egg from being released and stops sperm from fertilizing it with a high dose of the hormone progestin. If an egg is fertilized, the medication prevents the egg from implanting in the uterus. The drug won't work on a fertilized egg that has already implanted — the beginning of a pregnancy.
Casa has previously participated in fundraising efforts for Planned Parenthood of Southeast Ohio, made possible by the shared responsibility of the restaurant’s ownership model.
“We are very proud of being able to take stances that we all agree on and that support our values,” said Corbin. “Organizations that support women, that support minorities, that support people of color. Women’s choices are just plain important.”
In Columbus, WHO has organized monthly Reproductive Health Happy Hours where patrons purchase tickets at the door that can be exchanged for drinks. None have been planned in Athens yet, but with the contraception grant spent, Page said, the group is looking to bring them to local bars.
Businesses interested in offering emergency contraception, hosting possible future Repro Health Happy Hours or otherwise supporting WHO can email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the organization's website, www.womenhaveoptions.org, Page said.
“There are a huge amount of skills that could be needed,” said Page.
Corbin said businesses shouldn't be afraid of joining in, because the community is willing and open to seeing businesses support causes they find important. When Planned Parenthood was the designated recipient of Casa's tips pool, customers left more money than usual, according to Corvin.
“At a certain point, you gotta draw the line. You can only be inclusive for so long before you gotta take a stand,” said Corbin. “People are very supportive of programs like these and you should not be afraid to jump right in and stand up.”